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Ginger Bourbon—One Prompt Ten Authors


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“All right. I’ll see you next week.”

Doctor Grant Lake unfolded his hands and stood gracefully for someone that had sat and interviewed for two straight hours. He waited until he had shut the door and moved into the hallway to take off his glasses and squeeze the bridge of his nose. Although unable to stop a shuddery inhale from overtaking his body, he did manage to calm the tickle that had been bothering him throughout the last half of the interview. Grant sighed and put his glasses on his nose as he headed to collect his personal items from the dusty jail. His allergies were starting to act up. 

He stopped in the middle of the hallway with a start as his pulse quickened and his mouth went dry. Up ahead and leaning against the wall waiting for Grant was Detective Jones. Sexy intimidating Jones with the scowl and disappointed glares. 

Grant sighed and considered how foolish he would look speed walking past Jones and ditching his keys, phone, and wallet to make a quicker exit. Jones hadn’t seen him yet. He seemed preoccupied and angry as he looked down, hands clenched and body tense. Wanting to see what was wrong, but knowing that Jones saw him as public enemy number one, Grant moved forward and started to skirt around the detective. 

Jones looked up sharply and Grant jumped with the sudden movement, eyes immediately shifting over to the detective. Jones wasn’t looking at him though. Or rather, the detective wasn’t focusing on Grant even though his dazed stare was in his general direction. 

Grant stopped, eyes immediately locked on the detective’s red nostrils that couldn’t seem to sit still. In that hazy vision that surrounds your focused attention, Grant saw a dim version of the detective’s foggy grey-blue eyes tiredly roll up into his head. 

“Hehhh...ehhhh….ehhhh!”

His cheeks hollowed a bit on a gasped inhale as his erect nose managed to widen even further when his upper lip curled up. 

“HuhdSHIUUU! HedTschiUU!”

His sneezes were loud and hollow with a slight echo to them, unhampered as they were since he’d sneezed openly into the air. Grant dug into his lapel, barely holding himself from tsking at the lack of hygienic etiquette. Jones’ eyes cleared and Grant could see that his right eye narrowed a little more than his left like a headache was beating against the orb. 

“Bless you and here.”

Jones flicked the black handkerchief out just as his brows slanted toward each other, his nose scrunch creating tiny folds as he stuttered in a breath. He had the audacity to tuck the cloth into his shirt like he was about to eat a meal, but then he brought the bottom half up as more sneezes exploded out of him. 

HedTschMmphh! Huudjjtschiuu!....HuhhdSTCHUUU!

He dropped the secured handkerchief to let it hang down his sculpted chest, but not before he used it to scrub his nostrils, circling the irritated nares with his wrist in a fashion that could only be described as rough. 

Grant wanted to chuckle at the detective’s ingenuity, but it died in his throat with the detective’s next words. 

“You goi’g to let hib go free?”

Grant sighed, his mood souring as he readied for another battle. Different case. Same battle. 

“I don’t have the ability to free anyone, you know.”

“You and I both know how buch weight the testibony of a foredsic psychologist has od a parole board.”

Grant nodded and crossed his arms as he tried not to throttle the detective. How many times did they have to go over this?

“And for good reason. I have spent weeks doling out tests to the applicant, analyzing him, interviewing his peers and guards, watching how he interacts with others, and studying every documentation I could get my hands on concerning him.”

Jones cleared his throat of the grittiness that seemed pack on, but his deep voice still sounded like a growl when he spoke. “You can’t believe he should go free thed. Look at what he did.”

Grant held up his hand. He would not discuss this. 

“Let me do my job.” 

“Do it right and I will!” Jones snapped with vehemence. “I dod’t get it udless you’re lidi’g your pockets.”

Grant flinched like Jones had physically punched him and he couldn’t stop the hurt from mirroring in his eyes and clouding his expression. Did he honestly believe that? Grant shook his head and walked away, too stunned to say anything in return.

~~~

Grant took the last bite of his Chinese takeout and laughed as his best friend, Cadence, explained her frustrations with a celebrity client’s inability to follow her choreography. This was exactly what he needed tonight. He was glad he had decided not to stay later at work to finish up paperwork and preparation for several court depositions in the coming weeks. It could wait until Monday. 

“He wants a miracle! At this point, I’m considering a dance double to take his place.”

Grant chuckled and shook his head. “Like a stunt double?”

Cadence winked. “Exactly! I think the cameraman can work it. And I think everyone will be happier in th—”

She turned her head suddenly toward the hallway. “I think your phone is ringing.”

Pushing his chair back, Grant followed the quiet buzzing sound until it stopped just as he reached his room. 

“Who is it?” Cadence called from the kitchen. 

Grant didn’t recognize the number, but there was a voicemail. 

He entered the kitchen as he frowned. “I thought it was spam, but they don’t leave voicemails, right?”

When he pushed play and put the phone to his ear, Jones’ deep rumbly voice made him grip the phone tighter. 

“What I said cough cough cough was udcalled for. Let be cough cough buy you a drigk in apology.” 

“Well,” Cadence said impatiently once she couldn’t hear the mumbled deep voice coming through Grant’s phone anymore. “What did the message say?”

Grant sounded a bit bitter when he explained. 

“This guy I sometimes cross paths with at work apologized and offered to buy me a drink to clear the air, but I really think he just wants to make sure what happened today doesn’t cloud my judgement which is such an insult if he thinks that would have any bearing on my work.”

Cadence hmm’ed for a few moments and then patted his arm. 

“Meet with him on your turf where you feel most comfortable. And then share a drink and put it behind you. You’ll feel better. I can get you into the Vineyard.”

The Vineyard was a popular gay bar in the next town over. Grant tried to picture Jones at The Vineyard which resulted in him sputtering out in laughter. He couldn’t do that. A few minutes in there and Jones would probably hightail it out of there...which Grant didn’t mind since he was still feeling sore about the whole thing. And even though he’d only been there a few times, he would feel comfortable there. 

“All right. I’ll text him to come over. This has been bothering me so I’d better talk to him about it.”

~~~

Jones violently sneezed as he came through Grant’s door, nearly toppling the shorter man over in the process. 

“HiH-Esgchhhuiii! Hehhhh...EH!”

Relief hit him as he lost the sneeze. He hated winter. Gone were his dry sneezes from earlier. His cold had split off into his nose and chest and he knew he was in for a doozy. At least his headache was gone. 

“Bless you. That handkerchief is probably filthy by now. Let me grab you a new one.” 

Jones saw the back of Grant scurrying off before a tickle blurred his vision and he lifted Grant’s soft black handkerchief. 

“HnggTSCHUU! HihhhStchuhhh! Ugh.

Grant was back half a minute later with a folded handkerchief in his hand and a bit of guilt rising up at the harsh sneezes.

“Do you need a rain check?” 

The only things Jones needed was a place with loud music, alcohol, and maybe some flashing lights to really blur his mind and scramble his thoughts to stop him from thinking. If that didn’t work, he might actually get Grant to recommend someone for him. Everyone avoided him now because he was on such a short fuse lately. He’d thought Grant would blow him off to, but he surprisingly hadn’t. Pulling the black handkerchief out from the top of his shirt, he blew a stream of loosened congestion into the soft material. When nothing else would come out, he folded up the handkerchief and pocketed it before grabbing the new one to replace it.

“I’m sure. You ready?”

“Okay. Let me just grab my keys. One second.”

~~~

The place was packed. Grant turned the wheel left to circle the parking lot again.

“You could park there.” Jones pointed toward the empty space.

“We’ll be here all night if I do. This area has extra room for cars to park sideways behind the spaces. It’ll block us in.”

Jones just nodded and looked at the entrance, noting that Grant didn’t plan for them to stay long. He didn’t blame Grant for not wanting to be around him and he didn’t think it had anything to do with his cold. Grant finally found a spot that someone had just vacated. 

As they got out and walked toward the front, Grant looked around. Nothing had changed from his last couple of visits. There was still a ramp with a couple of turns that led into the bar. The name “The Vineyard” was still painted on a sign nailed to a tree that was nearly out of sight. This was one of those need-to-know places that had garnered attention by word of mouth. And if you didn’t have the code word for the night, you couldn’t get in. As they came closer, Grant had a sinking feeling. It was nice that Grant felt comfortable here, but what if Jones caused a scene? He dragged his foot as they turned to go up the last part of the ramp and stumbled forward. 

“Careful.”

Jones’ said sharply but it was tinged with concern and Grant was surprised when Jones put a steadying hand on his back. 

A tiny slit in the door opened as soon as they stepped on to the doormat. Grant leaned in with both hands around his mouth to whisper the code word. He lost a decade of his life when Jones banged on the door above his head.

“Oped the door, Harvey. It’s cold outside. You’re too old for these gabes. And would it kill you to add bore lights out here?”

The grumpy shout irritated his throat and Jones had to turn his head to cough. 

Suddenly the door slid open with a snap and the owner of the night club, Harvey, stepped out with shock on his face that was quickly followed by a huge grin.

“Jones! So you finally show your sorry face! Good to see you, man!”

Harvey turned around. “Hey guys! Jones is here!”

Grant couldn’t move. Could barely think as a cheer rose up from the crowd. What was happening?? Grant felt like he was being pranked and had the strongest urge to back away and take off, but Jones still had his arm around him and was now walking forward which propelled him but also caused him to stumble. Again, a strong firm hand pulled him upright.

“You’re pretty clumsy, huh?” A small smile cracked the hard edges around the detective’s jaw and his eyes softened a bit.

Harvey looked back at the attractive man in the doorway he had seen a couple of times and then to his long-time friend.

“You two coming?”

~~~~~

 

Part 2 in the works. 

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20 hours ago, Reader said:

Although unable to stop a shuddery inhale from overtaking his body, he did manage to calm the tickle that had been bothering him throughout the last half of the interview. Grant sighed and put his glasses on his nose as he headed to collect his personal items from the dusty jail. His allergies were starting to act up. 

I was hooked on this story already after this little part and was pleasantly surprised when someone also turned out to have a cold, but I can't help hoping Grant's allergies might make an appearance later on. I love the characters and the writing and I'm looking forward to more of this story! 

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I seriously don't know why you were so critical about this story, it's incredibly well-written and I, at least, thought the characters felt real and natural. 

On 1/1/2020 at 3:41 AM, Reader said:

He had the audacity to tuck the cloth into his shirt like he was about to eat a meal, but then he brought the bottom half up as more sneezes exploded out of him. 

That was an unusual way to use a handkerchief, don't think I've ever seen that. Very creative. ;) 

On 1/1/2020 at 3:41 AM, Reader said:

A tiny slit in the door opened as soon as they stepped on to the doormat. Grant leaned in with both hands around his mouth to whisper the code word. He lost a decade of his life when Jones banged on the door above his head.

“Oped the door, Harvey. It’s cold outside. You’re too old for these gabes. And would it kill you to add bore lights out here?”

Hahahaha, oh man I was as surprised as Grant at this!! :lol:

Super good writing! And great sneeze spellings too! I had fun doing this challenge, hope we'll get to do it again next year! Maybe with a slight timing adjustment so it won't clash with Secret Santa.  ^_^ 

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